Just as I predicted:
Faith-based groups, who play a key role in resettling refugees to the United States, say they are dismayed by the wave of anti-refugee fervor set off by the Paris terrorist attacks and are urging supporters to contact elected officials on behalf of victims of the Syrian civil war.
Many of you may not know this but Southern Beale works with refugees. It’s been my job for the past two years. So when I hear Tennessee Republicans like Glen Casada say such repulsive things as,
“We need to activate the Tennessee National Guard and stop them from coming in to the state by whatever means we can. I’m not worried about what a bureaucrat in D.C. or an unelected judge thinks. … We need to gather (Syrian refugees) up and politely take them back to the ICE center and say, ‘They’re not coming to Tennessee, they’re yours.'”
… it really makes me want to punch that guy in the face. Really, the amount of ignorance and hate on display in such comments just boggles the mind. It’s like they’re in a race to see who can be the most despicable human being.
My students have told me stories here and there, so I’ve gained a little perspective about what it’s like to be a refugee. One thing that’s clear is how hard it is to come to the United States; you don’t just get handed a ticket and land in Nashville. There is a tremendous amount of uncertainty. Some of my students have spent years in refugee camps. When they finally do make it through the arduous process, many of them don’t even know where they’re going. One of my students was first sent to Los Angeles, was immediately redirected to Idaho (Idaho!), was there for just two days (two days!), before then being sent on to Nashville. So I think stories like this one are not unusual, current events notwithstanding.
Republicans are playing to their fearful, nativist, xenophobic base. I don’t for a second think that they believe the crap that they’re spewing. They’re just trying to gin up a response, and fear is their go-to emotion. Keeping people scared is what they do. Last year it was Ebola, this year it’s refugees. Republicans are the “OMG WE’RE ALL GONNA DIIIIIIE!” party.
What they don’t seem to know is that a large majority of the groups helping refugees navigate these uncertain waters are Christian. Organizations like World Relief, Catholic Charities, and Church World Service are all involved in refugee resettlement. That’s because once upon a time, Christians were interested in more than just abortion and gay marriage. They knew that Leviticus didn’t just have something to say about gay sex, but also about not mistreating foreigners, “for you were foreigners in Egypt.” So as Republicans race to the bottom vilifying people fleeing war in Syria, they’re also pissing off another large contingent of their base.
We’ve seen this all before. It’s an election year, they want to appeal to the lowest common denominator of their base, so they tweak that amygdala, instead of trying to appeal to the better elements in their party. And come the next post-mortem, Republicans will continue to wonder why they’re perceived as the party that doesn’t care about people. Same as it ever was.
“Republican” is a synonym for coward. Not just because they’re scared shitless of everything — Muslim refugees, Ebola nurses, married gay people, you name it. But because they’re too scared to be anything else.